Court completes first virtual, judge-alone trial for murder

Court completes first virtual, judge-alone trial for murder

The Criminal Division of the High Court completed another historic first with a Judge Alone Trial for the charge of murder, conducted primarily through electronic means.

According to a release from the Judiciary, the case was conducted in the main through the use of video conferencing facilities, electronic filings, evidence and submissions.

Only two of the fourteen witnesses were accommodated in person although it had been decided that only one witness was required to give evidence in person.

The Practice Direction encouraged the use of electronic and technological solutions for all hearings.

The Judge-Alone Trial in the matter of CR. 105/2015 The State v Quincy Martinez aka “Bookie”, was presided over by the Honourable Mme. Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds, using the guidance of the Practice Direction issued by the Honourable Chief Justice on March 16, 2020.

The trial, which commenced on Friday 15th May 2020 was concluded on Tuesday 19th May 2020.

The Judge after deliberation, gave her decision on Wednesday with Mr. Martinez being found “not guilty” and discharged after 12 years on remand.

In her decision, Mme. Justice Ramsumair-Hinds remarked that the Practice Directions “merely pierce the veil to allow a peek at the efficiency of the machinery that drives the vision and mission of this Judiciary.”

She said, “Virtual hearings provided for improved service delivery and continued
access to justice in spite of the general stay-at-home regulations and COVID-19 best practices.”

“For some, the view has been that the use of electronic means in the Criminal Division should be limited to case management, remand adjournments and bail, steering quite clear of the main event of the criminal trial”

She said that thinking has slowly been replaced by an appreciation that the use of electronic means has great potential to mitigate several hindrances to the trial

Since the publication of the Practice Direction by the Honourable Chief Justice, the Judiciary has conducted over 5,800 virtual hearings.

Many of them have also been made possible by the establishment of Video Conferencing Centres at the various Prison facilities, including the Maximum Security Prison at Golden Grove and the Santa Rosa Prison Facility.